Le Vele; Italian dining with a view

Recently, the Pink Duck Publishing cast of creatives were invited for a delicious lunchtime treat to amplify the weekend vibes: a delightful dining experience at Le Vele, one of Cayman’s most idyllic waterfront restaurants.

Located along the water’s edge in the heart of George Town and open since August 2016, Le Vele offers sophisticated Italian cuisine with a Caribbean twist, including fresh locally sourced seafood, mouthwatering steaks, homemade pastas, risottos, salads, daily specials, and a delicious selection of pizzas.

As the team enter the front door, we’re met with a staircase which leads us to the building’s second story. It’s here that the entirety of the restaurant is located, and it’s the expansive view that defines dining at Le Vele.

Thanks to the restaurant’s waterfront location, whether you choose to dine in air-conditioned comfort or on the restaurant’s expansive balcony, guests can still enjoy a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea stretching out as far as the eye can see.

Paolo Cagnolato co-owns Le Vele with his wife Bonny and head chef, Adriano Usini. Paolo and Adriano hail from the city of Bergamo, Italy, fusing the dishes of their hometown with new ingredients found in Cayman.

Adriano has previously worked for restaurants in Milan, on cruise-line Princess Cruises, and local West Bay restaurant Ristorante Pappagallo, while Paolo has cooked for several luxurious Italian hotels and at Alfredo, the original Italian restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

Paolo explains that Le Vele is a restaurant focused on, but not strictly limited to, traditional Italian cuisine. While offering the classics, it’s open to new ingredients and recipes.

“We are passionate about food because it is our heritage, and this is reflected in our menu” Paolo says.

“Pizzas are very popular, especially our gourmet and vegan options. Homemade pastas and sauces made fresh from scratch speak for themselves and the fusion with old recipes and local products like our breadfruit gnocchi are unique and delicious.”

He adds: “Location, food, and passionate service makes Le Vele a unique spot in the Cayman culinary scene.”

Tasty Italian fare

First up we sample the restaurant’s popular Sunshine Pizza. Made from focaccia bread and topped with cashew cheese, avocado slices, kale, tomato confit, and roasted peppers, this flatbread pizza is a delight for our whole team, vegan and vegetarian members included.

The special brick pizza oven was hand-sourced from a family-run business in Bergamo. According to Paolo, it holds the ideal temperature, ensuring a totally even distribution of heat from top to bottom, and can cook the perfect pizza in three minutes flat.

Next, we’re treated to a special menu item, the restaurant’s famous breadfruit gnocchi. Among the first such dishes in Cayman, it provides a unique – and once again, vegan – spin on traditional Italian cuisine. The flavour and texture are a blend of traditional gnocchi and this popular Caribbean fruit, while the rich tomato sauce seems both sweet and savoury.

Finally, we’re brought a plate of swordfish and salmon carpaccio. This thin-sliced fish is topped with a tomato-based vinaigrette and provides a delicious side to complement the experience.

Although it may not be easy, we try to take each of these items slowly, savouring the taste and enjoying a convivial atmosphere and the view of the expansive ocean where a cruise ship and the mock pirate boat, the Jolly Roger, rest in the distance.

Once we’ve cleared our plates, it’s time for round two. We’re brought the casoncelli bergamaschi, a beef-stuffed ravioli cooked in red wine and a dish from Paolo’s hometown. We’re also served eggplant parmesan.

We round off the meal with a selection of desserts, including Saint Honore, a layered sponge cake; panna cotta with coconut flakes and mango sauce; chocolate avocado mousse; and strawberry tiramisu.

After this three-course meal, it is clear to see why Le Vele has garnered a reputation as one of Cayman’s must-try dining destinations. With richly flavourful dishes and a gorgeous view, it holds something remarkable in store for everyone.

Le Vele is open for both lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to close. Monday through Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

To make reservations please call 745-vele (8353) or 327-4103.